4 tips on how to perform better Google search queries [Tip]

Google is the king of the search engines, and with it you can find a variety of sites with just one keyword. However, inputting one keyword isn’t always especially specific; and can throw up a whole host of irrelevant websites and pages. With search operators you can further refine your Google searches.

Exclude a word

Often a search engine keyword can bring up variable websites. A good example is that of apples. When you input the keyword apples into the search engine the first website listed at the top of the Google search engine is the Apple software company, and below that other sites pertaining to the apple fruit.


You can remove pages pertaining to Apple software by adding a dash (-) before a second keyword that will exclude all results that include that keyword. To remove the Apple software websites listed, add something like -Mac after the apples keyword. Then the keyword becomes:

apples -mac

Input this into Google now. You should find that the link to the Apple website previously at the top of Google has disappeared. Flick through the Google pages, and you will find far fewer, if any, pages about Apple software. You can also expand the operator by adding apples -mac -software.

Search within a site

You can also search specific websites for pages with Google. When you add the site operator, Google will remove all other sites except the one included in the keyword. Input a keyword such as:

football site:BBC.co.uk

When input into Google this keyword will find football pages on the BBC website only. As such, you can bypass site search boxes with this Google operator.

Search for a quote

To make your searches more specific add “” around the keyword. This will find pages that include the exact text included within the quote. For example, input this keyword, “These beautiful images capture the many ways that snow can transform a landscape, from the hushed grandeur of the forest to the beckoning warmth of a cozy cottage and the magic of snow-covered city streets.” The page that includes that text is at the top of the Google search engine.

Combine searches

One of the most effective operators for combining searches is the OR query. With this you can search for pages that include two, or more, keywords. Input this keyword into Google:

Microsoft or Apple

Google will then find a variety of website pages that include both Microsoft and Apple, and other pages that include just one of the keywords. Without the operator Google will typically show only pages with both of the keywords.


They are a few of the keyword operators that you can input to Google search engine. With them Google will find more specific websites and pages.

Related Posts

  • Patrikck


    I my post I wrote “In 2013 at least one change has been applied to Google search (the tilde-operator (~) for synonyms was dropped in june 2013).”

    This information is erronous.
    While answering jivada’s question I found http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/15/13-hacks-to-improve-your-google-search.html, which also listed the ~-operator. I tried it and it still works… (The article on googleguide about the ~-operator was last modified in December 2012 – see URL’s below.)

    I should have first consulted full documentation on Google’s Search at http://www.googleguide.com/category/overview/index.html; on query input see http://www.googleguide.com/category/query-input/. (On some pages you’ll find exercises…)
    I encountered some problems accessing this information (repeated error 404 and 506 and “server timeout”). Probably due to local (Belgian) server maintenance.

    Plse. post on any other mistakes I may have made… Or interesting finds you run into.

    Happy experimenting,

    Read more at http://dottech.org/138977/4-tips-on-how-to-perform-better-google-search-queries-tip/#2hMjJ6sv0lW4mGgK.99

  • Patrikck

    Perhaps this may be of some help: an article from 15 Septeember last on http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/15/13-hacks-to-improve-your-google-search.html.
    I tested the example and tried a few other searches and it seems to work OK. Also a search like “best singles 01/01/2002..31/01/2002” (without quotes) sems to work. Putting the dates between quotes (not the ..-operator!, only the dates) will narrow the search results down from 3 to 2 pages…

    You may of course simply use the built-in tools shown above your search results, saves typing and avoids typing errors.

    To find newspaper archives you might read http://www.websearchguide.ca/how-to-find-the-google-news-archive/. The URL mentionned there (http://news.google.com/newspapers) leads you to a huge alfabetically sorted list of newspapers.

    I haven’t found any special tool or add in (for Google) that does these tasks – what would be the use if it sits right under your nose? ;-)

    I hope this more or less answers your question.

    Have a nice day,

    PS: While writing this I stumbled across this:
    You can access the cached version for any page that has been saved by Google with this:
    Change http://example.com/ to any URL. You can also create a custom search engine to go to cached versions automatically by adding a keyword before the current URL address. [ see http://webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/27414/how-to-use-googles-web-cache-to-view-a-page%5D

  • jivadas

    Some years ago I found (probably in these pages) a tool that allowed you to narrow the search field by DATE, giving access to very old archived data. Unfortunately I lost the site when changing computers, and can’t recall its name. Does anybody know this one?


  • Patrikck

    A to the point basic introduction to entice people to go deeper into the subject. Is this part 1 of a short series? I should hope so ;-)

    More goodies on http://www.googleguide.com/advanced_operators_reference.html (2012!)
    You may also like http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Google_for_research_Search_commands_and_how_to_use_15490.aspx (illustrated)
    or http://jwebnet.net/advancedgooglesearch.html (somewhat techy-oriented and also not 100% up to date, still quite interesting though).

    The main thing about searching the internet, IMHO, is to take a minute to think about what you’re really searching for before entering anything in the search box. That applies to all search engines and browsers. Getting the feel of the “hierarchical structure” that those impose on the available data is something that comes with trial and error… As we’re all too aware of but often, in our enthusiasm, uncnsciously discard.
    Comparing search results across different browsers may also be revelatory. Google may be the biggest and the fastest in many cases, it’s not always the best.

    Remarks: The first link in this post dates from february 2012. For the third I have not been able to find a date of creation but information goes back to 2006 at least (some links on that page will be dead or give an error message but none will harm your computer). In 2013 at least one change has been applied to Google search (the tilde-operator (~) for synonyms was dropped in june 2013). It seems that Google has done away with some other operators in the past (e.g. the “+”-operator) without informing users about it. So plse. don’t shoot the messenger :-)

    Have fun,

  • Peter

    I prefer startpage.com to get information instead of becoming information.

  • Raeldin

    I use something similar to the site: command. If I want to search the CodeProject site for something, my search looks like this.
    CodeProject C# dictionary
    This will pull only from CodeProject, at least for the first few pages.

    I also put things there like:
    TSQL tables
    This pulls back only TSQL entires dealing with tables.
    I wonder if the site: is needed. Time for some playing with Google.

    Thanks for the article.

  • Virtualguy

    I wish Google would put tips like these on the Search page to help teach and remind people how to do better searches. Thanks for the reminder.